Finalist 2021

Metro Tunnel Headquarters

We Are Best / Rail Projects Victoria

Metro Tunnel HQ is a landmark discovery experience educating all Victorian's on our rail future.

Materiality, lighting and moments of spherical’ness combined with information and immersive, engaging technology create a window
to the future of Victoria's landmark, history defining rail infrastructure pipeline. Metro Tunnel HQ is a seamless visitor experience that seeks to make the intangible, tangible - curating a clear, engaging narrative, telling the story about how Metro Tunnel leads a better connected Victoria across the 5 rail projects.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Metro Tunnel HQ followed an incredibly detailed and robust design process that took approximately 8-months. Rail Projects Victoria has advised that this robust, client-centric and engaging process has delivered a result that exceeded all aspects of the design brief and provides a robust, future-proofed space that will inform community engagement strategies over the forward periods.

The process included;

* Appointment of We are Best as Lead Consultant (Registered Architect, Experience Design)
* Visitor Experience strategy and vision aligned with the intended complex information delivery requirements
* Base Build Concept Design
* Experience Design + Digital Execution Concept Design
* Identification and appointment of sub-consultants (building services engineering, IT network engineering, inclusivity in design, safety in design, digital content (varied), 3D printing, quantity surveyor, lighting, Rail Projects Victoria internal studio)
* Test, Learn, Iterate Sprints as part of the design process to validate new, unique experience concepts
* Market tender for retail fitout contractor
* Budget management and value engineering
* Traditional fitout process, testing and commissioning and defects process

The finished product is a professionally executed fitout with the highest level of quality finish, together with the latest technology.

Design Excellence

As a VicGov first, Metro Tunnel HQ sets a new and unique, benchmark for visitor experience centres in not only Victoria, but across Australia. Embracing the power of experience design, Rail Projects Victoria have used this community engagement channel to demonstrate that professional human/user-centered design processes can drive meaningful engagement and education with mass populous.

Whilst aesthetically moody and dramatic, the delivered built environment space is strategic in functionality ensuring the immersive experience can be enjoyed by all Victorian's in a safe and engaging manner, whilst respecting the intended service design and operational requirements for staff to effectively bring the experience to life.

Quality finishes, fixtures and the very best in technology hardware has been delivered at Metro Tunnel HQ and most notably, the space and all of its individual experiences converge to one holistic narrative that really is for ALL Victorian's - with diversity and inclusion at the core of each and every design decision and detail built.

The design excellence of Metro Tunnel HQ was also recognised in the Venice Biennale 2021 - specifically around the use of digital 3D scaling and printing techniques to communicate with communities about the urban context and dramatic change management.

Metro Tunnel HQ embodies design excellence as it represents a highly curated, strategic, fit for purpose space that celebrates a truly unique visitor-experience for Rail Projects Victoria in engaging with, and educating the general populous about the history defining pipeline of rail infrastructure projects currently being delivered.

Design Innovation

Metro Tunnel HQ iteration 1 (2019) was already globally recognised as best practice for like-projects. The post-COVID relaunch amplifies this success and further challenges the definition of a contemporary visitor experience centre. Our challenge has always been two fold; to communicate complex, large scale infrastructure project realities in a human-centered way, and to bring the concept of intangibility to life in a more tangible, realistic way. It is a celebratory collision of functionality and design providing immersive and engaging experiences that inform and educate. The implementation of several new leading digital elements such as the central 3D printed city model pushes activated boundaries in effectively using scale and digital dynamism to communicate complex infrastructure projects in a human-centred, live and agile manner. Combined with both static information and the digital theaterette, virtual and augmented reality - the strategic designed experience is highly innovative as it allows visitors to engage under the premise of 'choice' in a choose your own adventure model. The design response also provides Rail Project Victoria significant opportunities to update information as each rail project's construction progress advances in a time and cost efficient manner - sweating digital hardware investment with engaging and activated 4D cinematic content. The space has also been innovatively designed so that VicGov can do a 'whole of' site takeover for any large scale announcements, or hosting of related events/presentations.

The ground breaking work in 3D city scale modelling, 3D printing and its intersection with 4D cinematic digital graphics has been a ground breaking, unique and Vic Gov first in being able to communicate and educate the total connectedness of a finished developed rail network (over many decades to come) with benefits being delivered for ALL Victorian's.

Design Impact

Metro Tunnel HQ is a highly impactful designed experience addition to the Melbourne CBD. Not only is it striking in street appeal on Swanston Street, it encourages education and celebration of the future narrative of people and place within Victoria. Rail Infrastructure is being developed in Victoria at unprecedented levels never before seen in history, and whilst the community often sees machinery, disruptions and construction above ground as a result of these projects (lived reality experience), very rarely is there such a bold and impactful channel used to inform, educate and talk with the community about the future benefits; the 'why' these projects are being delivered. Metro Tunnel HQ does just that for Rail Projects Victoria and the Victorian Government. It's not a brochure, a website, a contact centre - it is a live, retail, built environment channel where anyone can come in, learn, immerse themselves and also talk with someone about any aspect of the 5 rail infrastructure projects currently being delivered in Victoria.

This post-COVID refresh of what was already an award winning visitor experience centre has focused on the circular economy in driving down the breadth of materiality and instead uses greater investment in digital hardware to be able to change/evolve information in the future (rather than printing etc)

As a Victorian Government first within the infrastructure sphere, Metro Tunnel HQ helps define the Government's commitment to leveraging the power of experience design to engage with the community in innovative, new, agile, dynamic, impactful and meaningful ways. As a key aspect to retail vitality on Swanston St and with strategically intended close proximity to several key construction sites of the Metro Tunnel project - Metro Tunnel HQ not only contributes to, but is a defining beacon, in the reputation and status of Victoria's design and creative culture.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Environmental Sensibility is one of We are Best's design philosophy pillars - combined with the Victorian Government's commitment to sustainability and the circular economy - the project design team for Metro Tunnel HQ has focused on not only the immediate impacts to society and environment of our collective design decisions - but the total lifecycle of design decisions across the operation of the space over the coming years.

Key decisions throughout the design process with a focus on circular design and sustainability were as follows:

* Minimising the quantity and breadth of materials and finishes throughout the design
* Specification of eco-ink in static digitally printed graphic components
* Specification of the latest in technology hardware to ensure we are future-focused, empathetic to energy loads and to invest in digital hardware that allows updates to information and the space to be delivered via content in the future, rather than more physical, material intensive methods
* Specification of locally (Melbourne) manufactured loose furniture by local company 'Design by Them' using recycled plastics
* Create a narrative that takes the user on the journey of all Victorian rail infrastructure projects
* Specifying and working with infrastructure construction partners to use reclaimed rock matter from the rail corridors as a key materiality finish to the focal 3D immersive table
* Researching, testing, prototyping and using recycled acrylic products in 3D model table delivery

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